Brazil vs Argentina, it’s a long-standing battle. The two countries compete in regards to almost everything: from their football teams to their natural wonders, from their tourist attractions to their barbeques, to which country is home to the most beautiful people, and which side of Iguazu Falls is best. Brazil can lay claim to about 20 percent of the falls, and Argentina to the other 80 percent. This means that you get a bigger picture view of the falls from the Brazilian side, looking towards Argentina, but in Argentina you get closer to the falls and there is a larger area to explore. If you’re having the Iguazu Falls Brazil vs Argentina debate, both sides are incredible, and if you have the time and budget to see both then you definitely should, as each offers different experiences and views of the falls. If, however, you have to choose to view the falls from only one side of the border, read on to find out which side of the Iguazu Falls is the best side to visit.
The Argentinian side of the falls offers a multi-faceted and truly visceral experience. Almost two-thirds of the falls are located in Argentina so it’s easy to spend a full day or two exploring all it has to offer. On this side, a network of catwalks allows you to wander along the Devil’s Throat, a horseshoe-shaped curtain of waterfalls with 14 magnificent cascades, which takes you to the very best viewpoint at the mouth of this thunderous torrent. Here, you are literally hanging over the edge of the most powerful section of the falls. The deafening noise helps you understand why Iguazu holds the title for the greatest average annual flow of water in the world. It’s really a humbling experience and not for the faint-hearted.
The lower falls trail allows you to get up close and get wet, and gives some excellent views of the falls, which you’ll see on every postcard rack in the gift stores. Here, you’ll also have access to Speedboat rides that take you right underneath the falls before cruising down the rapids and finishing with a wildlife safari.
The Argentinian side has its own little train with three stations, allowing you, if you wish, to ride all the way from the park’s site entrance to the Devil’s Throat. The only exercise needed from the train’s stop is a short stroll along the steel walkway to the main viewing platform.
Another really good feature of the Argentinean side is the number and variety of mapped nature trails, which allow visitors to spread out a lot more and makes the park feel less crowded than on the Brazilian side. Argentina has the biggest portion of the falls, which means there are more trails to explore, and you can get to them all by using the tourist train. Some trails are long and some are short, so you can pick which you want to walk based on your fitness levels and what you want to see. Each trail has its own number of viewpoints to see the many dramatic cascades of water and smaller adjoining falls, you can go above the falls, and get right inside the falls. There are a lot of different areas on this side of the park that allow you to spend an entire day and still not feel like you’ve seen it all.
Because 80 percent of the falls are in Argentina, you really can’t see the scale of them from the Argentinean side, whereas, on the Brazilian side, you see everything, which will give you a better grasp of just how big the Iguazu Falls really are. Also on the Brazilian side, the viewpoints are slightly better placed, and there are more of them.
Indeed, what the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls lacks in size compared to the Argentinian side is compensated by tremendous observational opportunities. From here you get an excellent overview of the Devil’s Throat and the most inclusive and comprehensive panoramic views of the falls, from both above and below. A glass lift takes you from the top viewing deck to the boardwalk, where you can walk along the edge of the astonishing pours. In fact, the Brazilian side offers a fantastic almost 360-degree panoramic vista of the whole chasm. The main viewing platform here is situated midway from the top to the bottom of the falls, so you can get a good perspective of its full height. It’s impossible not to take that perfect photo here.
Both sides of Iguazu Falls offer boat trips to various points, but Brazil is the best option for a close-up of the Devil’s Throat. The boats verge as closely as they possibly can to where the water crashes at the bottom. Boat trippers get a good soaking so don’t even bother taking a rain poncho because it won’t keep you dry.
The trails and walkways on the Brazil side are much shorter and don’t get you as close, but you do get fabulously broad views, which you don’t get on the Argentine side, and the photo opportunities are superb.
You can also see wonderful wildlife and birds. Sitting directly across the road from the helicopter pad, on the Brazilian side, the Parques das Aves is an attraction in its own right. Set within the sub-tropical rainforest, it provides shelter for over 150 species of birds, including toucans, flamingos and eagles.
Finally, If you’re unfortunate enough to not have a lot of time, then with only a 20 percent share of the falls, the Brazilian side can be done in just a couple of hours.
The falls may be visited from two main towns, one on either side of the border. Puerto Iguazú in Argentina and Foz do Iguacu in Brazil. Both are almost equal distance from the falls and neither takes long to get there, so distance can’t be considered as a deciding factor for your choice of side. But they are very different towns.
Puerto Iguazu in Argentina is much smaller. Most of the people you’ll come across will be other travelers who are all there for the same reason – to see the falls. But it’s still a pleasant, safe, and quiet town with lots of sleeping, eating, and drinking options.
Foz do Iguacu in Brazil is a much larger town and does not have the feel of a purpose-built tourist town like Puerto Iguazu. It has its own sights and places of interest to offer so could be considered as somewhere to stay for a few days, rather than just a single night stop for the falls. Foz do Iguacu also has more accommodation options and easy airport accessibility.
If you want to stay really close to the falls, you can do so on either side of the border. The Belmond Das Cataratas is probably the best option, included in most luxury Iguazu itineraries, and the Melia in Argentina is one of the closest hotels, but bear in mind they are both out of town.
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